In 1926, African American historian Carter G. Wilson established Negro History Week. The observance took place during the second week of February to include the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Since then, Memorial Week has grown into a full month dedicated to celebrating black culture and promoting the widespread study and teaching of black history.
Utah Valley University (UVU) observes Black History Month and celebrates the achievements of African Americans and other members of the African diaspora. Black Americans are a key part of US history and culture, and our Black students are a key part of UVU. The Black Wolverines are making strides on campus and in our wider community year-round as part of UVU’s diverse student body.
This Black History Month, we hope to highlight the resources, opportunities, and support available to Black students at UVU. We encourage all Wolverines to learn more about Black history and how they can get involved with or support our vibrant and active Black student community.
Learn about the African Diaspora Initiative
The African Diaspora Initiative (ADI) was founded in 2020 as part of multicultural services for students. ADI seeks to serve as an African-focused home away from home and an oasis for students of diverse African and Black identities.
Our work is rooted in African principles and philosophies, such as ubuntu (South African/nguni Bantu term for the interdependence and recognition of humanity) and nguzo saba (the seven principles of Kwanzaa developed by Dr. Maulana Karenga). We also acknowledge our historical and social partnerships with other BIPOC communities.
Our programming includes African-focused celebrations, networking and leadership development. We seek to root our work in the realities, philosophies, practices and language of the African and African diaspora.
Black Student Union
UVU’s Black Student Union (BSU) is committed to fostering a sense of community for Black students. It offers students the opportunity to express their opinions on current events, academics, culture, the arts, and campus life. We imagine that the Black Student Union is more than just a club, but a family. Being away from home and family is never easy, so we hope the Black Student Union can provide students with an outlet for whatever they might be dealing with while in college. Our primary goal is to provide a safe space for all black diaspora students.
Even though we are starting small, we foresee big things for the future. In order to foster a better atmosphere for Black students, we, the Black students of UVU, have created this organization to serve the general welfare of the Black student body in the UVU community. We aim to serve as a voice for Black students and to establish a sense of identity, community and pride. Black Student Union will focus on bringing our diverse culture to campus while allowing all students to be exposed to our way of life.
Cultural Envoy Leadership Program
Cultural Envoy is a UVU sponsored leadership program that validates student cultures and supports their journeys through completion. As a student in the Cultural Envoy program, you will learn to navigate and negotiate your experience at UVU, your community, and other critical spaces you may celebrate as important.
Cultural Envoy has a thriving section of the African diaspora. open to all students who wish to understand and refine facets of their culture, identity and lived experiences to facilitate their development as scholars, change agents and community stewards
Services for multicultural students
Multicultural Student Services strives to teach and deliver intentional programs and services that embrace and validate multicultural education; promote opportunities for intercultural learning, exchange and appreciation; and cultivate an atmosphere of inclusion, diversity, equity and social change.
We are committed to creating spaces not only for inclusion and diversity, but for equity and justice, and ensure our students, staff and faculty know that UVU welcomes and incorporates their voices and lived experiences into our campus community.
Explore black history
At UVU, we honor the rich history that the African diaspora has brought to the education system. Black history is American history, with depth and complexity that are not focused within traditional historical narratives. While we focus on African Americans in education and culture, it’s impossible to include a complete story here. We encourage you to research Black history and learn how Black pioneers contributed to your interests and field of study.
1865: Increase in historically black colleges and universities
The first institution of higher learning dedicated to black students was Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, founded in 1837. Only a handful of schools served primarily African Americans until the end of the Civil War. The number of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) grew exponentially after 1865.
1868: The first African American museum opens
Hampton University, then known as the Hampton Agricultural and Industrial School, was founded in 1868 in Virginia. The campus houses the Hampton University Museum, the oldest museum in the United States dedicated to the African diaspora. Today, the museum features artwork and artifacts that honor a diverse range of different cultures and heritages.
1896: Plessy versus Ferguson
Homer Plessy was arrested in 1892 for sitting in a whites-only train car in New Orleans. The United States Supreme Court decided his case in 1896 in a 7-1 ruling. Plessy v. Ferguson was the historic case that decided that racial segregation laws, also known as Jim Crow laws, were not unconstitutional as long as the structures for each race were “separate but equal.”
1918: The Harlem Renaissance begins
In the 1910s, the Harlem neighborhood of New York City had the most concentrated population of blacks in the United States as African Americans moved away from the South. African American art, literature, and music flourished during this period, and new political theories and philosophies were formed. Prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance include poet Langston Hughes, jazz singer Billie Holiday, and writer Zora Neale Hurston.
1926: Negro History Week created
Negro History Week was the forerunner of Black History Month and was observed the second week of February. Historian Carter G. Woodson created the observance to argue that black history be treated as a formal field of study and to urge educators to highlight and celebrate African-American contributions to education and culture.
1954: Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board was the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Plessy v. Ferguson. Oliver Brown’s daughter was barred from attending the school closest to her home and she was instead required to attend a segregated black school. The Browns and 12 other families filed a class action lawsuit against the Topeka Board of Education. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”
1965: The Higher Education Act is passed
Initially passed in 1965, the Higher Education Act (HEA) provided additional federal funding for higher education institutions. The legislation was changed in 1986 to include a dedicated funding stream for HBCUs.
1976: Black History Month is established
Black educators and students at Kent State University proposed expanding Negro History Week into a month of observance in 1969. Black History Month spread across the country, both in educational institutions and in Black communities. The observance was recognized by President Gerald Ford during a celebration of the United States Bicentennial, 50 years after the creation of Negro History Week.
2021: Utah’s first Black History Museum opens
Utah did not have its own black history museum until 2021. The Utah Black History Museum is currently housed in a painted and repurposed school bus. The traveling exhibit features images, artifacts and stories of black Americans and Utahns.